Bursting the Bubble
Overview | Standards | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students
Until recently, many people thought that the stock market run-up that began in 1995 would continue indefinitely. Now, in the midst of a bear market economy, people are questioning the media's role in the saga of the dot-com bubble. In this lesson, students will build background knowledge on the stock market, discuss how the media covered the bull market, and create an informative booklet and a survey on the role of the media in the bull market run-up. Resources will include the Bursting the Bubble segment of the "Media Matters" program, and the PBS Media Matters Web site.
Grade Level: Grades 9-12
Activity One - Two fifty-minute classes
Activity Two - Two fifty-minute classes and two homework assignments
Subject Area: Civics
Students will be able to do the following:
- Analyze the role of the media in the dot-com bubble.
- Summarize the issues surrounding the media's role in the stock market run-up.
- Design a survey to examine the issues of media responsibility.
Standard 19: Understands what is meant by "the public agenda," how it is set, and how it is influenced by public opinion and the media.
Thinking and Reasoning
Standard 6: Applies decision-making techniques
Working With Others
Standard 1: Contributes to the overall effort of a group
PROCEDURES FOR TEACHERS
Bookmark the following sites:
The purpose of this activity is for students to build background knowledge on the stock market.
1. Create a class KWL (know, want, learn) chart on the stock market.
2. Ask students what they already know about the stock market. Place this information under the "K" column of the chart. This is designated for what we already know.
3. Ask students what they want to learn about the stock market and place this information under the "W" section of the chart, for what we want to know.
4. Break the students into small groups and send them on a search to find the answers to their questions. The following ThinkQuest site, Investing for Kids, is a good place to begin Internet research: http://library.thinkquest.org/3096/
5. After students have completed their research, place the information that we have learned under the "L" column of the chart.
The purpose of this activity is for students to discuss the role of the media's coverage of the recent bull market, and to consider possible conflicts of interest that could occur between the media reporting the news and the companies that own the media.
1. Break students into small groups and ask students to search the archives of newspapers and business/financial magazines to find articles from the dot-com boom era (1995-2000).
2. Tell the groups to choose and summarize two of the articles and present them to the class.
3. Referring to the Bursting the Bubble section of the Media Matters program and the selected newspaper and magazine articles, discuss how the media covered the bull market run-up that began in 1995. The following is a list of possible discussion questions:
4. Break the class into small groups and send them to the Columbia Journalism Review Web site to research what entities the major media companies own. http://www.cjr.org/owners/
5. Ask students to complete the following tasks:
- Do you think much of the information presented by the media was biased? Explain.
- Do you think analysts who had a vested interest in certain stocks should have been interviewed? Explain.
- Do you think journalists have a responsibility to present unbiased information? Explain.
- Do you think it was obvious to most people that the media sometimes offered biased advice? Explain.
- Do you think that the media is being used as a scapegoat? Explain.
6. Give the class time to share their scenarios and discussion questions with the class.
- As a class, find out who owns CNBC (Answer: General Electric). Ask the class the following question: Do you think that CNBC's coverage could be promoting their owner's business interests?
- Repeat this activity using one of the articles that you chose in the beginning of this lesson.
- Browse the Columbia Journalism Review Web site (http://www.cjr.org/owners/) and think about scenarios in which a media company could have a vested interest in how a story is covered. Example: AOL Time Warner owns Warner Brothers Recreational Enterprises, a company that owns and operates theme parks. Could this relationship impact the way AOL Time Warner reports on an accident or safety issues in one of the theme parks?
- Ask the class: Do you think it is possible for the press to be overly concerned with the interests of the companies that own them?
The purpose of this activity is for students to prepare an informative booklet on the role of the media in the stock market run up, and to construct and implement a survey on this topic.
1. Visit the Bursting the Bubble section of the Media Matters Web site. (Students may also refer to the Bursting the Bubble segment of the Media Matters program for this activity.) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/mediamatters/
2. Divide the class into small groups.
3. Tell students that they are going to create a survey based on the Media Matters episode. The survey questions they generate should be based on the following questions:
4. Using information from the Media Matters series or the Bursting the Bubble section of the Media Matters Web site, ask students to prepare an informative booklet to explain the issues behind the questions.
- Was the press skeptical enough in its coverage of the tech stock boom?
- How should journalists deal with the knowledge that what they write has the potential to move the market?
- How should financial news programs edit the information presented by its guests, many of whom had personal and professional stakes in the stocks they promoted?
- What is the responsibility of the media -- print, TV, and online -- in this situation?
5. Provide time for groups to find people to take the survey they have created. Remind students to use their informative booklets they created to explain some of the issues behind the survey questions.
6. After students have completed the surveys, ask each group to create a graph that shows the survey results.
7. Have the groups share their charts with the class.
Students will pick stocks based on three criteria and analyze the stocks' progress.
1. Have students watch a financial news program and pick two stocks based on their recommendations.
2. Ask students to choose two stocks based on their own research.
3. Have students arbitrarily choose two stocks from the stock exchange page in the newspaper.
4. After an agreed-upon time period, examine the value of the six stocks.
5. Create a chart that shows the stock results, and write a brief statement explaining the results.
ORGANIZERS FOR STUDENTS
Background Activity Organizer
Activity One Organizer
Activity Two Organizer